Gower, The Journeyman Scrivener

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"He was slightly less unfun"

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Earning 100 Points Earning 500 Points Earning 1,000 Points Earning 2,000 Points Having 3 Storygame(s) Featured Rated 98.2% of all Stories Given by mizal on 10/11/2019 - For your exceptional games and articles, many forum contributions, and disturbing sweetness and light. (Sorry about McAllen, it wasn’t our idea either.) Given by Will11 on 10/12/2019 - For your excellent stories and many worthwhile contributions to the site :)


Featured Story Kelly Unicornstrider and Friends (1982-1985) Super Quiz

A comprehensive quiz + bonus fan faction about the the underrated cult classic show "Kelly Unicornstrider and Friends" (1982-1985). Questions range from really easy to really difficult.

Featured Story Private Game for Natalie

I think putting this on "publish" makes it so only we can see this. It's just for us, sweetie. I made it to celebrate our anniversary and remember some special intimate moments together over the years in an interesting way as a present for you.

I hope you love it, Natalie, as much as I love you!

(Of course if there's any admin looking at this, or if I messed up, don't read this, because it's got private things in it.)

Featured Story Sabbatical Report Presentation

This is my required report to the full faculty in accordance with the rules noted in the Faculty Handbook (version 15.1, as of October 2017)

Sixteen Words

"Personally I can only read 16 words in one go before words stop working," wrote Mizal.


This game has sixteen words per path.  Not counting "The End."  So you can play quickly.


When reviewing, please use precisely sixteen words.   That should be plenty for your suggestions and observations.


Note this challenge connected with this game:  Write the Last Page!

Articles Written

Basic Sentence Structure: Additive Sentences
Comma Use and Additive Sentences with lots of examples

Cumulative Sentences, Part 1
An introduction to the sophisticated and elegant cumulative sentence style.

Dialogue Punctuation
This is a brief discussion of how to punctuate dialogue in US and UK English. It also notes a few rules for quotation mark use in general.

Relative Sentences
A lecture on how to write relative sentences using restrictive and non-restrictive clauses.

Semicolons and Advanced Additive Sentences
This article explains how to use semicolons to create new types of additive sentences. It includes the plain semicolon and semicolons with transition words.

Recent Posts

Tally Ho, Chapter Seven on 11/14/2019 5:10:35 PM

…an image of a brutal barbarian riding a dragon, befitting the boat's size and sturdiness.

The boat is painted with an image of a muscular and fur-clad barbarian warrior riding a bright green, fire-breathing, two-headed dragon. The barbarian holds a mighty runed broadsword with one hand and a grail made out of diamonds in the other. The grail is topped with purple flames.

"Do you really think that is the appropriate decoration?" asked Aunt Primrose. "I don't really know what sort of style is fashionable for rowboats these days. But this one seems rather fringe."

"Mrs. Patterson, this painting is awesome. As in, the art will awe all assembled."

"Hm! If you say so, Pennyworth."

You open the suitcase, letting the disgruntled birds out. They stretch their wings, and set about exploring the boathouse. They should be perfectly safe here for the time being.

Now you simply must get back to the parlor at once before Inspector Ambrose notices that you are missing.

Closing the doors of the boathouse firmly, you stow the suitcase behind a bush to retrieve later, and then trot back to the house. You carefully slip inside the foyer just as Inspector Ambrose pokes his head out the door of the parlor.

"Won't you join us?" Inspector Ambrose says sweetly, motioning into the parlor with an obsequious bow with a two-handed flourish.

"Of course," you say. "I was just waiting until you felt it was appropriate to join you."

"Naturally you were!" laughs Inspector Ambrose. "You would not have been doing anything wrong. I have not the least doubt that you were right out here in the foyer."

He motions you into the parlor again, and you find a seat next to Rory; he looks at you with questioning eyes. You give him a subtle nonverbal signal that clearly indicates that "the peafowl have been safely stowed away," and he relaxes slightly.

Inspector Ambrose sits on his tall stool, just in front of the toasty fire, and pulls out his copy of Wilkie Collins's novel The Moonstone. His bookmark is right at the very end of the novel. "I just have ten more pages to read," he says. "You may talk amongst yourselves while I finish." He absorbs himself in his mystery, following the lines with his finger and making satisfied sounds like "Hah!" and "So I suspected!" as he reads.

The two burly police officers once again flank him, and read over his shoulder.

"Where is that tea, Pennyworth?" Aunt Primrose says, crossing her arms. "I thought you went out to bring up the tea ages ago."

"Did I?" you say. "Ah yes. I did. I can't imagine what the delay is. Hm! What poor service on the part of your kitchen staff."

Aunt Primrose frowns deeply.

"We were really looking forward to it," says the first officer to you. "I do hope it will be along soon. I could eat a whole suitcase worth of scones."

"That is a strange expression," says Inspector Ambrose mildly. "And yet I think I have a sense of why you uttered it. Yes, indeed. But I just want to finish this last bit before commencing in earnest on what is sure to be a memorable conversation."

He looks up at you and smiles.

1. "I am looking forward to hearing what you have to say, sir."

2. I sit quietly and a bit skeptically, uncertain about this whole affair.

3. "It's rather surprising about Mr. Murthwaite there in the last chapter, isn't it? One would not have guessed it."

Text glitches on 11/14/2019 2:32:56 PM

I've often wondered this when reading people's writing.

Tally Ho, Chapter Seven on 11/14/2019 6:41:22 AM

You look upon Gunwales of Infinity fondly, thinking of the several outings you and Rory have had in it. It used to be a sort of dull gray and cream, without the least attention to beauty. You recall Aunt Primrose asking you last month whether you would assist her by designing Gunwales of Infinity's decoration for the race. Traditionally, everyone goes all out in their decorations, and therefore, you decided upon…

1…an attractive pastel palette, well suiting the boat's grace and attractiveness.

2…an image of a brutal barbarian riding a dragon, befitting the boat's size and sturdiness.

3…a pirate ship motif meant to bolster its crew's morale.

4…an intellectually challenging abstract painting in stunning shades of red, orange, and yellow, designed to arouse bursts of energy in the crew.


Tally Ho, Chapter Seven on 11/13/2019 4:53:20 PM

I act as if this were the most natural thing in the world to be doing. "Of course. How do you make tea?"

"It seems to me that your talk of tea is meant to conceal some darker purpose," says one of the officers, scratching his head and fingering his billy club with purpose.

"I suspect," says the other, "that you are using talk of tea in order to provide cover for your presence upstairs, toting a mysterious suitcase, whilst the two of us here up here attempting to search for winged contraband. Then you come here removing something and attempting to talk your way out in a fairly feeble way."

"That's about the sum of it," says the first officer. "It seems like the kind of situation we were trained for by Inspector Ambrose. We've put the clues together, and the picture becomes increasingly clear."

Rory's voice, bellowed up from downstairs, breaks the tense moment. "Pennyworth, ah, I know you are bringing down tea. From upstairs. So, please, be quick about it. And don't forget the croissants."

The officers look at you.

"There, you see, officers? All is on the up and up. If you'll excuse me." You effect a tone of wounded pride.

"I suppose tea is your purpose, after all. We may have misjudged you," says the first officer. "Go on then."

"I'm looking forward to the croissants," says the second. "I assume that's what's in the suitcase. Perhaps I ought to just take a peek."

"No, they are still cooling," you say.


"If there is nothing else?…no?" you say. "Good morning."

You walk by them, downstairs, and then quickly out the door with the suitcase.

At first you think that you will simply return the three birds to their pen, or possibly ditch them elsewhere, but by now the area of the pen, and the house at large, is simply crawling with police officers. You cast about wildly, and then you have it. You'll simply walk to the old boathouse. It is large enough for the birds to run around in happily, and there will be people in there later today to prepare the rowboat for the Harvest Festival race—they'll find the peacocks and return them safely to Aunt Primrose.

Best of all, there don't seem to be any police wandering around in that vicinity, so you amble across the property and to the boathouse, near where the Woodland Stream comes onto Aunt Primrose's property.

You peek in a window. Nobody there. The rowboat sits proudly against one wall, up on sawhorses, awaiting the race later today.

All great boats have names, and this boat's name is blazoned proudly across the side.

1. Choice of Rowboats

2. It's Keeling Time

3. Tin Starboard

4. The Wholly Wood Visionary

5. Gunwales of Infinity

6. The Sturdy Streampunt

7. A Wise Use of Pine

8. Punt of the River

9. Life of a Lobster

10. Oars of Aswick

11. The Eagle's Oar

12. The Paddle Throne

13. Ratings Wharf

14. Flounder's Saga: The Sculling

15. Reef's Gambit

16. Welcome to Oar Town

17. Pair of Ducks Factor

18. Tide High

19. Avatar of the Gulf

20. The Hero Unmasted

21. Choice of the Deckless

22. The Drydock's Riddle

23. Jetty Patrol Officer

24. Diamant Rows

25. Her Oars Rise

26. The Lake Erie Agent

27. Swampy Exodus

28. Seaman's Lark

29. Tar Captain

30. The Rower Behind the Moon

31. Rammed!

32. Wayfares of the Port

33. The Lost Oar III

34. Trials of the Reef Breaker

35. Champion of the Cod

36. Skiff Made Defective

37. Diabolic Keel

38. Broadsides 1849

39. The Rowed to Canterbury

40. Underwater Agent

41. Silver Whirlpool

42. The Row Project: Open Seas

43. Leeches Such As We

44. Platinum Wreckage

45. The Daily Lacksail

46. Choice of Ripples

47. The Yawl of Memphis

48. The Shipkeepers of Hallowford

49. Gilded Whales

50. Sparkling Waters

51. Fair Gulfs of Haven

52. High Spray Oars

53. I shall create my own name.

Tally Ho, Chapter Seven on 11/13/2019 4:47:04 PM

Oh, also, @mizal, could you remove Camelon's reply to my "please don't reply to this post" post above?

Tally Ho, Chapter Seven on 11/13/2019 4:45:49 PM

Yeah, there's a lot of checks for your relationship with Mopsie, and depending on where she likes and doesn't like you, you are helped and hindered in various ways throughout.

Tally Ho, Chapter Seven on 11/13/2019 8:54:29 AM

I appeal to Aunt Primrose's sense of gracious hospitality: "Mrs. Patterson, surely these officers would like a cup of tea before getting to work."

"Perhaps we ought to have tea served," you suggest to Aunt Primrose. "Those police officers seemed a bit peckish."

She turns to you testily, wringing a handkerchief in both hands. "My prize peacocks, the jewels of my collection, have been stolen, and you come to talk to me about tea?" She throws the handkerchief to the ground and gnashes her teeth at you.

"But surely some thought for social niceties…"

"Let me tell you about social niceties. When I find the villain who made off with my birds I will have them passed thrice through a meat grinder, made into a pâté, and served with hard-cooked eggs and cornichons at a festive picnic for one and all. Does that answer your question?"

"Y-es, I believe so. Perhaps I'll just go pop down to the kitchen and help out without disturbing you further."

"Go, then. I don't care."

You run out of the room, heading upstairs, walking past the officers, who are searching Mopsie's room.

You open Rory's door and find the three birds sitting in one of Rory's suitcases, no doubt playing some sort of pretend game.

"Perfect," you say. "I beg your pardon; this will be just be a minor inconvenience." You fasten the suitcase and lift it up. It is rather heavy, and some squeaks and trills of protest ensue from inside the suitcase as you rush out of the room.

You run into the two police officers in the hallway.

"What are you doing with that?" one of them says, pointing to the suitcase.

"I'm making tea," you say. "Mrs. Patterson expressly sent me to do so."

"With a suitcase? Upstairs?"

1. "Yes. It is an invention of my own. I am always thinking of brilliant inventions."

2. "This suitcase is where I keep baked goods. You may rest easy. There is no cause for alarm, gentlemen."

3. I act as if this were the most natural thing in the world to be doing. "Of course. How do you make tea?"

Gower's Office Hours on 11/12/2019 6:48:14 PM

This is a style question rather than a grammar question, so I imagine different style guides answer this question differently.  Looking at the various style guides I have, I find that there's no particular preference indicated, and it strikes me that there are two different situations you'd encounter this.

First is a + or - indicating a positive or negative number.  I don't think you'd want the "-" and the "3" on different lines if you want to write "-3"--so common sense suggests you have to boot that minus sign to after the line break.

But in x^3 - 5x^2 + 2x + 8 I would be pretty unhappy with


- 5x^2 + 2x +8


So I hereby declare that for formulae the operation sign stays on the first line.

Tally Ho, Chapter Seven on 11/11/2019 3:51:47 PM

I turn to Rory, attending to his needs.

"I am certainly going to need to be braced with a beverage before facing the assembled crowd in the parlor," Rory says, sinking into a chair in the foyer.

You produce a steaming cup of tea on a tray, next to a croissant and the morning paper. "I believe this was what you requested," you say.

"Y-yes!" Rory looks delighted and takes a long draught of the delightfully smoky Lapsang souchong tea you have presented to him—Rory's favorite. Mopsie looks at the croissant covetously, and Rory breaks off a cousinly corner of it for her, and then another.

"I didn't even see you fetch this, Pennyworth. That was well done."

"Tish-tosh, sir. It is my practice to ensure that your needs are well taken care of. Think nothing of it."

"It must be very distracting to try to serve Rory when I am here looking so fetching," Mopsie says to you, sounding miffed that you have not praised her yet. "There is a certain dazzling effect."

"Yes, very nice indeed, Mopsie."


You and Rory allow yourselves to be herded into the parlor, where Frankincense, Haze, Col. Firesnuff, and a very flustered-looking Aunt Primrose sit on various chairs and divans. Mopsie follows close behind you and plops down on the piano bench. Col. Firesnuff is reading the newspaper aloud to nobody and pointing to an article about some gang of delinquent children called the Ragamuffins who live on a nearby river island and appear to eat nothing but bread. "And that is why this country needs someone like me in office," he concludes smugly, folding the newspaper and nodding.

"I think it's terrible," says Frankincense, quietly.

Carlington stands at attention next to Regina Wilhelmina just right of Aunt Primrose.

"Everyone here, then?" says Inspector Ambrose. You turn to see him perched on a tall stool, up on a raised dais at the back of the parlor, overlooking everyone else. Two burly police officers flank him.

"Why don't you go search the rooms for those stolen peacocks now that everyone is here?" Inspector Ambrose says to his police escort. Rory turns to look at you, aghast.

"Yes, sir," the officers say, and they start to head for the exit.

You simply mustn't allow them to find Galatea, Sanchi-San, and Orlando in Rory's room!

Options flash through your mind. You could run out of the room, beating them there, remove the birds, and hide them elsewhere. That would be simple and effective, but surely Inspector Ambrose would notice you exiting and make him rather suspicious.

You might quietly mislead the officers so they find themselves wandering through the east wing for a while. That would buy you some time, but they might realize later that you were being deceitful.

Best of all would be for Aunt Primrose to insist that tea be served to the officers. But that would require you to convince her that social niceties are important even in a time when her prize peacocks have gone missing, which might be difficult and fluster her further.

1. I appeal to Aunt Primrose's sense of gracious hospitality: "Mrs. Patterson, surely these officers would like a cup of tea before getting to work."

2. I direct the officers in the wrong direction to the guest rooms with a cunning lie.

3. I bolt out of the parlor and beat the officers to Rory's room.


Tally Ho, Chapter Seven on 11/10/2019 6:17:19 AM

"In point of fact, I must intercede here. Mr. Wintermint did not bring the peacocks in here. The situation is mysterious to us."

"That's right," Rory says. "While I would love to take credit for this, ah, marvelous deed, I cannot."

"You…didn't do it? Is this modesty?"

"I'm afraid not," you say. "You may trust me. We were both quite surprised this morning."

"Oh." Frankincense's face falls. "Then I did not misjudge you completely. You are the man that I thought you were.  I mentioned to you more than once that I wished you to do something about those birds.  So you did not do this."

"I wouldn't go that far about my being the man you think I am.  And I don't recall you telling me to do something about those birds," Rory says. "If you are referring to our discussion of last night where you went on and on about those blasted birds, then, yes, I suppose, perhaps that is...well, dash it, Frankincense.  I don't want to have it out again.   I thought there were a few points where you might have judged me just a tad harshly."

"I am…very disappointed," Frankincense says. "But I don't want to argue.  Good morning."

"Good morning," you say.

At precisely this moment, you hear a commotion in the hallway. You peek out of Rory's door and hear Carlington calling, in a resonant baritone, that all of the guests ought to come down to the parlor.

"This is far from the way Aunt Primrose usually does things," says Rory. "Usually she allots several hours in the morning for lolling about and then a late and large meal. She is not one for rousting her guests out of bed at the crack of…what time is it, Pennyworth?"

"Half past nine, sir."

You can hear Carlington's voice on the second floor now, knocking on doors, and escorting guests outside.

"I wonder what the unusual urgency is," Rory says. "Probably some soufflé that must be served at once."

The peacocks screech as you depart. "We'll be back," you say.

"Be good," says Rory. "Pennyworth, after breakfast, we really must put those birds back where they belong. They have already untidied my bedclothes."

"Right after breakfast," you say.

You lock up the door to the Wintermint GHQ and head downstairs, where a grim-faced footman points you towards the parlor. Mopsie is standing near the door to the parlor, adjusting her hair in the mirror. Aunt Primrose's help is rushing to and fro, looking far busier than typical for this time of day.

1. "Good morning, Mopsie. You are looking rather smart this morning."

2. "What is all this commotion about?" I ask a passing servant.

3. I turn to Rory, attending to his needs.